Welcome to the webbed and wired edition of R&R, aristotle. We’ll be doing the same sort of song and dance here as we do in print: reviewing the latest comics and cartoon-related books and ranting about trends and abuses and unfathomable foolishnesses. Each installment will stay here for about four weeks, with a new one coming in just about every other week or so. If you don’t have the time to ponder every punctuation mark in this deathless prose and merely want to see what might be there that would interest you, we suggest you scroll down the page looking for the bold-face type that heralds the notables who reside herein this week. So here we go with Opus 357 (and a reprise of Opus 356):
Opus 357 (September 19, 2016). If you want to catch a rabbit, you hide behind a tree in the wild and make noises like a carrot. Or read this installment of Rancid Raves, where we sample the crop of the month’seditorial cartoons during the Season of Trumpery, review graphic novels The White Donkey (U.S. marines in Afghanistan) and Templar (during the Crusades), plus the new collection of Charles Rodrigues’ cartoons, Gag on This, and Alan Moore’s gigantic Joycean prose novel, Jerusalem, and we look at these comic book first issues: Kill or Be Killed, Lucas Stand, Lady Killer 2, Kingsway West, Control, The Violent, The Fix, Black Monday Murders, and Lake of Fire. And more, much more (including telling excerpts from a Bill Watterson speech in 1991 and porn covers on newsstand comics—well, bookstore stands).
This posting, you’ll see, is huge. We just can’t shut up. But that’s what it’s all about, eh? Talking about comics. That’s what we do here. But every time we get ready to post, the Trumpet blasts a new outrage and editoonists leap to their drawingboards, and we have even more to say. So we admit: there’s more here than can be read at a single sitting. We recommend using the contents listed below as a shopping list: scan the items listed and pick those that interest you; then scroll rapidly down to the ones you’ve picked, skipping over boring stuff. Politics and editooning spirals nearly out-of-control this time because of the political conventions and the Prez Election shenanigans; but if you’re not into politics, skip all that and go on to what you like.
Here’s what’s here, in order, by department—:
NOUS R US
Comics Sales Good
New Comics Magazine
Facebook Censor Flubs Badly
Iranian Cartoonist Wins Courage Award
Cartooning An Endangered Species?
Moore’s Joycean Novel Just Published
Hef’s Playboy Disappoints Again
Snarking The New Yorker
Odds & Addenda—:
March Up for Award
Salinger Studio for Student Cartoonists
Prez “Cancelled” To Avoid Political Fallout?
Who Started the Birther Scam?
FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE
Reviews of 1st Issues of—:
Kill or Be Killed
Lady Killer 2
Black Monday Murders
Excerpts from Bill Watterson Speech in 1990
THE FROTH ESTATE
News Media Give Trump More Time
Sampling the Last Month’s Crop of Editorial Cartoons
(A Lot of Trumpery)
GOSSIP & GARRULITIES
Sandy Eggo Artists Alley in 1991: I Wuz There
RANCID RAVES GALLERY
Pretty Girl Art Edges Into Porn
NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL
News and Taboos in the Funnies
Short Review of—:
Gag On This: The Scrofulous Cartoons of Charles Rodrigues
A-GAGGING WE SHALL GO
The New Yorker’s Post-9/11 Cartoon
LONG FORM PAGINATED CARTOON STRIPS
Reviews of Graphic Novels—:
The White Donkey: Terminal Lance
Lake of Fire (1st issue, comic book, related to Templar)
ONWARD, THE SPREADING PUNDITRY
A Sterling Big of Reasoning by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
If Not of A Lifetime
“Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”—Kurt Vonnegut
Our Motto: It takes all kinds. Live and let live.
Wear glasses if you need ’em.
But it’s hard to live by this axiom in the Age of Tea Baggers,
so we’ve added another motto:.
Seven days without comics makes one weak.
(You can’t have too many mottos.)
And our customary reminder: when you get to the $ubscriber/Associate Section (perusal of which is restricted to paid subscribers), don’t forget to activate the “Bathroom Button” by clicking on the “print friendly version” so you can print off a copy of just this installment for reading later, at your leisure while enthroned. Without further adieu, then, here we go—:
NOUS R US
Some of All the News That Gives Us Fits
COMICS SALES LOOK GOOD SO FAR THIS YEAR
Heidi MacDonald at publishersweekly.com reports that after a year of slipping sales and smaller lines, the comics industry was in a more upbeat mood at the 2016 Diamond Retailer Summit, held August 31-September2 in Baltimore by Diamond Comic Distributors, the main distributor for periodical comics and traditional comics publishers. ...
While sales have yet to fully recover from a shaky start this year— overall sales are down 2.2%— graphic novels are up 2.4%. Additionally, Diamond’s customer count is up 3.6%.
Periodical comics are down 2.6%, and merchandise down 1.6%. However, at a breakfast presentation, Diamond reps announced that sales had picked up over the summer, and by year's end they expect sales to stabilize.
The growth in graphic novels was remarked on by nearly every publisher. Mainstream authors Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood have had success at Dark Horse, said editor in chief Dave Marshall, at a state-of-the-industry panel. “More and more of our readers are preferring the collected [book] format.” ...
Much of this summer’s surge in sales is due to DC’s Rebirth event, a moderate revamp of its superhero comics line, which launched in April and has shipped over 12 million returnable units since then. The sales velocity of Rebirth has been even bigger than 2011’s New 52 (an earlier DC superhero revamp), with Rebirth showing a 76% rise in sales compared to New 52’s 47% rise.
DC hopes to continue the upswing with a Justice League vs Suicide Squad event—DC’s iconic superhero team battles DC’s bad-guys turned good-guys team—early in 2017, announced by co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee.
At Marvel, retail channels outside the direct market (local comic book stores) have had an impact, including Scholastic Book Fairs, where lighthearted Marvel characters such as Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl are sold. Marvel senior v-p of marketing and sales David Gabriel said Marvel is having its best year since he started at the company 14 years ago. The new Black Panther series by Ta-Nehisi Coates has also expanded the diversity of Marvel’s line, as well.
Other publishers saw a similarly rosy horizon.
A NEW COMICS MAGAZINE
Image has a new scheme afoot. For three months, Image has produced a magazine, Image+, which offers interviews with funnybook writers and artists and generous samplings of the pages they have written and drawn. While it is an obvious promotional effort (only Image comics creators are interviewed and their work sampled), it is also engaging in its own right and nicely informative as even promotional publications can be. Initially distributed free to subscribers of Diamond’s monthly Previews catalog with their copy of the catalog, in the most recent issue, No.3, the publisher announced the impending expansion of the publication: it will soon be offered for sale on its own. By way of demonstrating the magazine’s worth, I have quoted from a couple issues of Image+ in my reviews of current comic books in Funnybook Fan Fare down the scroll.
It’s not clear whether, as a Previews subscriber, I’ll continue to get a copy free with my catalog, but I have hope. One of the magazine’s treats is the clever inside front cover comic strip, Comic Lovers, by Brandon Graham, who gently spoofs comics artistry and criticism as he exemplifies both; a sample appears at the corner of your eye on the $ubscriber side of the Wall.
FACEBOOK CENSOR FLUBS BADLY
From Maren Williams’ report at CBLDF—:
In the face of international condemnation and ridicule, Facebook reversed course recently after initially blocking one of the most famous war photographs of all time because it includes a nude minor. Taken by photographer Nick Ut, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo titled “The Terror of War” shows nine-year-old Kim Phuc, along with other South Vietnamese children and soldiers, fleeing a friendly-fire napalm attack in 1972. Phuc sustained severe burns across her back, and the searing image helped to turn U.S. sentiment against the war, contributing to the ceasefire six months later.
The 44-year-old photo came to Facebook’s attention last week when Norwegian writer Tom Egeland included it in a post about “seven photographs that changed the history of
warfare.” Egeland’s account was subsequently suspended, prompting the newspaper Aftenposten to cover the story and use the same photo as a preview image on Facebook. The newspaper in turn received a moderation notice asking that it “either remove or pixelize” the photo, but the post was deleted by Facebook before Aftenposten staff could take action.
Later, Facebook, face red, restored the iconic photo and its various encumbrances.
IRANIAN CARTOONIST WINS COURAGE AWARD
News Release from CRNI
Joel Pett, President of the Board of Directors of Cartoonists Rights Network International, announced the recipient of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning for 2016. Every year, CRNI searches the world of political cartooning for those who have demonstrated exceptional courage and resilience in the face of life-threatening risk and danger.
Political cartoonists are often the first journalists to be attacked for their irreverent and satirical commentary against tyrants and terrorists alike. Because their cartoons are so immediately comprehensible, they often have more power and influence over public opinion than other media, particularly in countries where literacy is not widespread. In such countries, cartoonists’ pictorial reportage tells the tale. And if the country is run by a dictatorship, that entity doesn’t like the cartoons or the cartoonist.
This year’s recipient, whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is an Iranian national, currently interned in the Manus Island detention camp in Papua New Guinea. This notorious detention center is funded and overseen by the government of Australia.
Various human rights groups have spoken out against the Manus Island camp, with the UN recognizing that indefinite detention and the practices employed in the camp constitute “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” and break the UN Convention Against Torture to which Australia is a signatory.
Eaten Fish has been able to keep up a stream of cartoons documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp. For this he has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food, and even worse degrading treatment by the guards. Australia has made publication of negative information about the camp punishable by two years in prison.
The importance of the work of human rights defenders, artists, cartoonists and writers, such as Eaten Fish, within the prison camp cannot be overstated. Nor can the fact that they are at further risk of violence each time they create, speak, draw or write. Eaten Fish is one of those who’s work as a cartoonist brings to light the horrors that are happening around him.
CRNI believes that his body of work will be recognized as some of the most important in documenting and communicating the human rights abuses and excruciating agony of daily life in this notorious and illegal prison camp. His work pushes through the veil of secrecy and silence and layers of fences in a way that only a talented artist speaking from the inside can.
We hope that this award will help shine a brighter light on the excesses of this camp. His work is addressed to the critical eyes of the world while exposing the xenophobic and racist policies of the Australian government in their dealings with immigrant refugees.
The award will be presented in absentia and accepted by Janet Galbriath, an Australian poet and human rights worker, and founder of Writing Through Fences.
Galbraith has made it her business to uncover the excesses of the Australian government’s policies in the Manus Island camp,
The award will be presented at the final dinner of the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Durham, North Carolina on September 24, 2016.
CARTOONING AN ENDANGERED SPECIES?
Editorial cartooning has been in trouble for years. In May 2008, 101 editoonists worked full-time on the staffs of American daily newspapers. That number is now 50. The erosion of this profession has been attributed to the plight of the newspaper itself. Newspapers aren’t making as much money for their stockholders as they once did—and the possibility of expanding paid circulation in the age of the free Internet is remote, foreclosing the option of increasing revenue. The remaining balance sheet choice is to reduce expenses, which means, mostly, cutting staff, and editoonists are the supposed luxury and therefore go first.
But some attribute the slow death of editooning to other causes. Timidity. Ted Rall calls it “corporate slacktivism,” an aversion to rocking the boat with satire. Editoonist Clay Jones, quoted (like Rall) by Jaime Lopez at news.co.cr, agrees: “I do feel that newspapers are afraid. To be honest, most editors don’t know a good cartoon when they see it. They love obituary cartoons. They love the most obvious. The laziest cartoonists draw the same old cliches of sinking ships, candidates as Pinocchios, people going over the edge and so on. And those cartoons get a lot of reprints. Check out USA Today every Friday. Most newspapers reprint cartoons and don’t have a staff cartoonist.”
Freelance cartoonist Dean Haspiel, not an editoonist but still looking to sell cartoons for publication, gave the keynote at the Harvey Awards ceremony at the Baltimore Comicon. Speaking about the once vibrant New York City scene for freelancers, he remembered basement “night clubs” and second floor venues where people went for entertainment. No more. “Who goes anywhere anymore when everyone is glued to their smart phone and tablet?” And for the freelance cartoonist looking for publication outlets, “it’s hard to compete for an audience that can’t extricate themselves from the Internet for a couple hours to experience something live and direct with carbon dioxide. Our surveillance society has created attention-deficit-disorder zombies. The ‘scene’ got taken hostage by the screen.”
COMICS GURU ALAN MOORE PRODUCES JOYCEAN NOVEL
Nobirdy Avair Soar Anywing to Eagle It
With the publication last month of his extravagantly long and complex prose novel, Jerusalem, Alan Moore announced that he is planning to retire from the other medium in which he has worked for so long, the one that brought him fame—comic books. But not, it seems, right away.
The creator of such medium-altering works as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, The Killiong Joke and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman said, at a press conference about Jerusalem, “I have about 250 pages of comics left in me,” and he may produce them in Cinema Purgatorio and Providence from Avatar, and the final book of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That, however, would fall short of his life-long goal, “to do a large work on a large scale.”
He plans to keep working, but to focus on films and literary novels, still aiming at that large opus.
Jerusalem, a nearly 1,300-page work of words with no pictures, presumably is a milestone on his road to that goal. It took Moore ten years to complete.
Andrew Ervin, an author and critic writing in the Washington Post, says Jerusalem “is epic in scope and phantasmagoric to its briny core. It takes place over 1,000 years in the English town of Northampton [Moore’s hometown], also known here as the Boroughs. It’s a hardscrabble realm teeming with painters and prostitutes, would-be poets and biblical demons. The angels play snooker with the eternal souls of the residents on the line.” Moore would agree; he says the book celebrates the city’s “long tradition as a haven for religious firebrands, insurrectionists and the plain old mad.”
David Franich at ew.com waxes large in his approval of the book: “Here it is, the big-swingiest of literary big swings: A Very Long Book About Very Nearly Everything. In Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, witness the span of a human life, the lifespan of humanity, and the four-dimensional space-time architecture of life after life. And, in Jerusalem, witness all that cosmic scope, filtered through the dust-mite microcosm of a single neighborhood in a single city.”
“Jerusalem,” Ervin continues, “ revels in the idea of eternalism, the theory that past, present and future exist all at once. Everything that has ever happened in Northampton is still happening. Everything that eventually will happen there is already happening now. Amid that chronological and ontological maelstrom, Moore’s characters must reckon with the occasional slippage between their town and a shadowy parallel realm known as Mansoul. From Mansoul, the deceased can watch all of the goings-on in the town.”
The book is obviously, self-consciously, Joycean (perhaps as homage and, in some places, as parody).
“Yes, yes, very much,” burbles Franich. “Many of Jerusalem’s chapters follow the life-in-a-day structure of [James Joyce’s famous] Ulysses, with characters thoughtfully perambulating around a few square blocks in Northampton. Then you get to the part when Joyce’s daughter Lucia has a sexual encounter with pop idol Dusty Springfield— said encounter witnessed by actor Patrick McGoohan and the balloon-monster from McGoohan’s TV show “The Prisoner.” ... Did I mention that whole chapter is written in the style of Joyce’s infamously post-coherent masterpiece Finnegans goddamn Wake??? Sample line, pulled from the middle of a random sentence:
“... Lucia askplains dashy’s expictured beckett d’main how’s o’ the massylum in spacetime for tea an’ dusks her newd frond four dimections to delaytr roaches of the ninespleen severties…
Hence the subtitle of this article, ripped from Finnegans Wake.
“The novel doesn’t have a through-line plot arc any more than do Hieronymus Bosch’s hell-scapes,” said Ervin. “But we learn a great deal about the Vernal and Warren families,” the chief characters (other than the town itself) of the book. Another Joycean kinship.
“Moore’s own prose is always lively and rarely orthodox,” said Ervin. “He can evoke mirth and dread in equal measure. His similes want to leap from their pages. A lackluster intimate encounter ends ‘like an old tea towel that had been wrung out time after time until the pattern on it disappeared.’
“The prose sparkles at every turn, but that’s not to say it’s without flaws. Some entire chapters, particularly in the middle Mansoul section, struck me as wholly soporific. Moore also demonstrates an affinity for overwriting. I was hard-pressed to find many nouns that did not arrive man-splained with an unnecessary adjective. Here’s a typical sentence: ‘The big square bathroom with its plaster-rounded corners is a blunted cube of grey steam rising from the eight-foot chasm of the filling tub, an ostentatious lifeboat made from the tide-lined fibreglass.’
“That maximalist, kitchen-sink approach accounts for many of its pleasures,” Ervin conclude: “There are unexpected twists and frequent hairpin changes in mood. What makes it truly shine, however, is its insistence that our workaday world might not be quite as mundane as we think. Lurking in the corners of the ceiling, we might just find a portal to a different realm. The imagination Moore displays here and the countless joys and surprises he evokes make Jerusalem a massive literary achievement for our time — and maybe for all times simultaneously.”
Well, that may be a bit much. A bit too Joycean perhaps.
Moore gave an interview to the New York Times, from which we have pulled a few fascinating bits; those appear on the other side of the $ubscribers Wall. ... To Read It and To See What Hef is up to in the Latest Issue of Playboy, to Ponder Why Prez Was Effectively Cancelled, to Sample Editoons from the Season of Trumpery, to See a Porn Comic Book Cover, to Read Reviews of Graphic Novels The White Donkey, Templar, and 9 Comic Book First Issues—and More, of Course, Much More— Click Here And If You're Not a $ubscriber/associate—
NOTE: You can gain temporary access to this posting (and all the rest of this website)
by paying the trial month fee of $3.95 (which is about what the
New York Times used to charge for a single print-out).
$ubscriber/Associates: To Continue
reading please CLICK HERE
$ubscriber/Associates: To Continue reading please CLICK HERE
To find out about Harv's books, click here.
send e-mail to R.C. Harvey
Art of the Comic Book - Art of the Funnies - Accidental Ambassador Gordo - reviews - order form - Harv's Hindsights - main page